Branding is a
major goal for marketers around the world, and companies
typically allocate big bucks for this objective. But branding
was always hard to measure, that is until the web became
a commercial medium.
Online advertising started with banner ads, and it didn´t
take long before marketers realized search engine listings
drive large volumes of targeted traffic to websites.
Search traffic is
golden because it doesn´t interrupt consumer behavior.
Users are actively seeking information and want to be
driven to its source. As they view the search listings
for their query, these text descriptions function as ads
that produce awareness.
In 2001, NPD Group
examined the effectiveness of three types of search engine
ads: search listings, banner ads, and the tile ads to
the right of search listings. The search editorial listings
were read and clicked upon significantly more often than
banners or tile ads, and they also produced more sales.
Conclusion: Search listings provide more brand awareness
than any other ads in a search environment.
In 2004, Interactive
Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Nielsen/NetRatings explored
branding produced by search listing text ads versus the
contextual ads in the right column, focusing on four branding
attributes (unaided brand awareness, aided ad awareness,
familiarity and brand image associations). Conclusion:
Branding in search listings is stronger than contextual
ad branding, particularly when the brand holds the top
position in the results page.
Your brand is what
identifies your business to consumers. It resides in the
hearts and minds of your customers and prospects as the
sum total of their experiences with, and perceptions of,
your company. Good branding ensures loyal customers, and
your existing customer relationships are the key to profitability.
So it´s no wonder that branding is a major marketing
SEMPO research on
business marketing goals shows that most companies place
"increase brand awareness" at the top of their
list. Other goals include, "selling products/services
online", "generating leads", "increasing
traffic", "generating leads for distributors",
and "providing information/education".
The Branding Component
of Search Marketing
Up until now, the
major goal of search engine marketing (SEM) has been to
drive targeted traffic to your site for lead generation
and online or offline conversions. However, its
now evident that during the search process, another valuable
advertising goal is achieved -- that of branding.
Some SEM firms dont
hype branding because of their focus on driving qualified
traffic to produce leads and sales. However, at Bruce
Clay we feel the branding aspect of SEM is too important
to be overlooked.
How Search Branding
When indexing your
site, most search engines will use your websites
Title and Description, or the information therein, to
create the text link that appears in the SERPs (search
engine results pages). This link, and the brief description
of your site that follows, function as an ad
when users view your search engine listing.
Every time your listing
shows prominently in the SERPs, branding takes place.
You can achieve better branding when you ensure that all
your ad elements encourage maximum awareness upon click-through
to your landing page.
There are two major
factors of importance in an SEM branding campaign: your
branding message on the results page (Title/Description
or Paid Text Ad) and your call to action on the landing
Your Title and Description
Tags are critical elements in a professional search engine
optimization (SEO) campaign. When your website architecture,
linking and content are properly optimized, these elements
will help bring you to prominent positioning in the SERPs.
With paid search
ads, a professional SEM firm will research and identify
strategic key phrases, write the text ad, develop your
bidding strategy, monitor bids, and track and fine-tune
changes. Here, too, theres a Title and Description
that shows in the SERPs.
Your landing page
is an important ad element for both SEO and Paid Search
campaigns. Copy and creative should be strategically composed
as an extension of your search ad on the SERPs,
with the landing page focused solely on the desired action.
Ideally, these marketing elements should be prepared by
SEM pros with advertising expertise.
How do you measure
the effects of branding in a search engine marketing campaign?
A web analytics program can do more than simply report
statistics. These systems for compiling data will analyze
your web logs to effectively manage your SEM campaign
and measure your brand effectiveness. Below are some of
the data points that can be used to measure the brand
impact of an SEM campaign.
- Average Time
On Site: The longer your visitors browse your site
upon arrival from a search engine, the better chance you
have for future conversions.
- Page Views Per
Visitor: The more pages your prospects visit and read,
the greater the odds of communicating your marketing message.
This contributes to branding awareness.
- Path Views to
Registration or Subscription Sign-Ups: This is the
same as the visitor giving you permission to form a business
relationship. It starts a dialog and allows you to continue
building your brand, moving the visitor closer to conversion.
- White Paper
Downloads: The more interest is shown in your products/services,
the more branding takes place, and the user moves closer
- Navigation Report:
This shows where visitors go next, pointing prospects
to distributor or retailer sites. When search listings
result in a click to a seller site, there is likelihood
of purchase and proof of branding.
With such value in
your search listings, its wise to extend your branding
efforts through SEM campaigns. The coordination of SEM
and advertising expertise ensures that all critical ad
elements work together for both conversions and the elevation
of your brand.